Well, our first MLB Monday miniseries is finally over after going through over 110 MLB seasons dating back to 1911 and assessing the most-valuable hitters, pitchers, and rookies in the sport. It took us over two years to do this, and now we can look back at some discoveries we made. We’re going to summarize briefly here, although you’d have to review all the entries yourself to truly get your own grasp of it all!
Also, we’re staying positive here, and just showing you the dominant players in our analyses. There are some very overrated players throughout history, but we’re just going to highlight the players our insight has shown us to be the “best” ones in the sport. Hang on to your caps … play ball.
The players with the most MVP nods from us could shock you; then again, it might not. Our top award winners were Willie Mays (9), Babe Ruth (8), Rogers Hornsby (8), Ted Williams (6), Mickey Mantle (6), George Brett (5), Mike Schmidt (5), Barry Bonds (5), Nomar Garciaparra (5), Tris Speaker (4), Stan Musial (4), Jackie Robinson (4), Joe Morgan (4), Cal Ripken, Jr. (4), and Albert Pujols (4).
Most of those names should not surprise you, although the numbers might. Mays stands out as the dominant player of his era, for sure, while Brett’s prominence might catch you off guard—but he really was that good in the late 1970s and early 1980s. All Bonds’ awards came before his BALCO business, so it shows he really messed with a good thing by letting himself be consumed by jealousy and rage.
Nomar’s inclusion here is easily the most shocking bit: From 1998-2003, however, he was the best player in the American League, hands down, thanks to his impressive combination of offense and defense. Otherwise, this list is pretty much something most fans might expect to see: a collection of the best players in MLB history. Oh, and remember, Ruth also won an AL Cy Young from us, too.
Super Cy Pitchers
We dug deep for the Cy Young awards, of course, granting them for each league decades before they ever were awarded, and this is our list of rock stars: Lefty Grove (9), Pete Alexander (6), Walter Johnson (5), Greg Maddux (5), Randy Johnson (5), Robin Roberts (4), Dave Stieb (4), Pedro Martínez (4), and Clayton Kershaw (4). It’s a shorter list, but it’s also harder for pitchers to stay healthy.
No one on this list should shock, save for Stieb: Like Nomar, he is going down as the most underrated of these all-time lists. But there’s no arguing he was the best AL pitcher from 1982-1985, as he won four straight trophies from us during that stretch—without ever winning a real one. Otherwise, we see Grove—like Mays—as perhaps the greatest in the history of MLB at his craft.
Perhaps Roberts is a surprise to people, too, as even though he is in the Hall of Fame, he’s not often mentioned among the greats of the game. He won his four NL Cy nods from us between 1950-1955 in an era that was dominated by hitting superstars, so maybe that’s how he flies under the radar of most baseball fans. He shouldn’t, obviously.
MLB Monday Going Forward
If anyone ever asks, we will now firmly say the best MLB players ever were Babe Ruth, Lefty Grove, and Willie Mays—period. And we have done the research to prove it. All three of them tied with 9 major-award wins from us, and if it is even possible, each of these guys was underrated in his time, for whatever reason. But no more!
Looking ahead, we have discussed doing both World Series MVPs and Gold Glove winners as our next miniseries, and we may add a “Cy Relief” designation, too, since almost all our Cy nods went to starting pitchers. The combination could make for a nice miniseries, where just take on a year at a time, giving the three awards (World Series MVP, AL Cy Relief, NL CY Relief) while looking at the worst GG votes.
But we are going to take a month-long break from this weekly entry; we deserve it, so we will see you on the Fourth of July with our first entry in the next miniseries … until then, cheers!
Check in on Mondays for our MLB awards historical analysis on The Daily McPlay!